Written by: Jessica Burke | Photos: Rare Sighting Photography
shavonda + dornell’s story
“We met at a time when neither of us wanted to date. As fate would have it, we clicked instantly. We said we’d be friends only but that all changed after one date to the movies. He actually proposed during the pandemic. It was the weekend before my birthday and I was sad that I wouldn’t be able to see my family. We went to pick up our son and when we got back they were all in front of the house with gifts and signs. I was in tears and then I turn around and he’s on one knee professing his love and asking me to be his wife. I had the ugliest of ugly cries. I said yes once I was able to gather myself.” – Shavonda
their favorite wedding day moment
“Our favorite part was meeting at the end of the aisle,” shares Shavonda. The day of the wedding brought with it a lot of stress but that all melted away at the ceremony. “Once I got to the end of the aisle a wave of calmness came over me and nothing that was stressing me out prior to that point mattered,” she shares.
“We included traditional African practices in our ceremony,” says Shavonda. The ceremony took place in historic Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park in New Orleans, officiated by Baba Obafemi Fayemi.
the wedding reception
Shavonda planned and designed the wedding herself. She and Dornell wanted to be close to the water, so they chose the Westin New Orleans Riverbend Ballroom overlooking the Mississippi River for their wedding reception.
The first dance included dramatic fog special effects.
GETTING READY LOCATIONS: Westin Hotel New Orleans + Eliza Jane Hotel | CEREMONY LOCATION: Congo Square | OFFICIANT: Baba Obafemi Fayemi | RECEPTION: Westin Hotel New Orleans | REHEARSAL DINNER: Space Seven Nola | BRIDE’S GOWN: Lena Berisha | BRIDESMAIDS’ GOWNS: Jenny Yoo, Wedding Belles Bridal Boutique | MENSWEAR: Men’s Wearhouse | PHOTOGRAPHY: Rare Sighting Photography | VIDEO: Angel Wing Films | FLORALS: Blooms by Briana | WEDDING CAKE: Pretty Little Things Cupcakes and Cakes | GROOM’S CAKE: Jenny’s Cake Creations | CEREMONY MUSIC: Michaela Harrison + Joy Clark | RECEPTION ENTERTAINMENT: DJ VJ | TRANSPORTATION: Riculfy Livery | HAIR: TraElle Salon (color) + Amanda Ancar (styling) | WEDDING DESIGNER, DECOR RENTALS + LIGHTING: Fleur Du Nola Designs | DAY OF COORDINATOR: Elle R Jae Events | JEWELERS: Ramsey’s Diamond Jewelers + Lee Michaels | FAVORS: Bride and Groom, Jacqueline Firven (pralines) | INVITATIONS:: Pietra Paper Designs | DANCE FLOOR WRAP: AD Event Group